As I write this, in the fields behind my home, the house builders carry on relentlessly – the change in weather of no concern. Men and machines buried deep in holes attempting to improve the drainage of the floodplain!
Ahh I hear you cry, an attack of NIMBYism! Well yes and no, I cannot claim that I am not mortified to be losing the view but perhaps more importantly this is a prime example of yet another naturalised grassland areas being covered in concrete. Both within and surrounding our towns a quick look at online aerial maps show the next small green pocket potentially under threat.
Rather interestingly, last year within the test holes dug by the developers – what should appear but the charismatic fern (and one of my favourites) the Adder’s Tongue Fern (Ophioglossum vulgatum). As a small species, this little one loves short grassland and bare ground and had seized upon the chance of a temporary take over.
Although rather unlike a fern, Adder’s-tongue is quite difficult to spot in March and April as it pushes through the soil –so well camouflaged in its usual grassland habitat (where it prefers unploughed damp grazing land). However, when you see one, you suddenly notice quite a few more. As the spring develops so does the ‘snakes’ spike which is the fertile frond which bears the sporangia containing the spores. There are some more interesting snippets about ATF here.
I cannot change what is going on next to me but on a positive note a call to all meadow owners – do keep an eye out over the coming weeks, for this little single waxy leaf gem.